Reborn Dolls: Everything You Need to Know About Like Like Babies

Reborn baby dolls are special, multipurpose products that are popular among children, collectors as well as women suffering from a loss of a child. They are called this way due to their intricate details. Every reborn baby doll is made to be realistic and to resemble a newborn human baby.

History of reborn babies

First items of this kind were created during the 1930s. Initially, it was a hobby and toys were produced by a small number of artists. As people wanted more realistic dolls, artists started making beautiful dolls that would look like a real baby or a reborn toddler. In short amount of time, it became a new art form and the best reborn babies were being sold for lots of money, with a price ranging from a couple of hundreds of dollars to several thousand.

While the business of creating lifelike dolls lasted for a while, it experienced expansion during the 1990s. Reborns became a popular online item and there is a whole society of enthusiasts that sell them this way. You can also find them at certain fairs. There is a group called The International Reborn Doll Artists or IRDA which is meant to regulate the market and make sure that every member artist upholds to certain ethical standards.

As previously mentioned, this cute product was initially supported by the collectors and today, there are people all over the world who simply love these dolls. The phenomenon gain in popularity and it received lots of coverage in mainstream media. Today, there are magazines and conventions that are focused on this line of products.

Creation of reborn baby dolls

First and foremost have in mind that these are custom-made items; each one has a specific body type and size, head, hair, eyes and other parts. There are boy and girl babies and they have various skin tones. Some artists allow even more customization and are prepared to make dolls based on photographs. This can especially help women who lost their child.

Vinyl is used as a basis for a doll. Artists use different doll kits and things such as material, size and shape determine its popularity and ultimately, the price. Some dolls are easier to paint and modify such as those manufactured by Lee Middleton, Apple Valley, Zapf, and Berenguer Babies. The supplies (baby kit) are very important for the creation process: if a set is made from the top quality materials and has a shape which resembles a real baby, it will help create a more realistic doll.


Terms newborning and reborning refer to the process of modification; if a doll manufacturer has already created a baby which resembles a real child, the artist will not be able to modify it.

Doll manufacturers recognized the trend and started creating kits that can easily be used later on and modified. Of course, this also led to new products, supplies and tools. Doll manufacturers even have instruction videos that can help new reborn artists.

Basic kit has lots of different parts such as limbs, eyelashes, weighted pallets, faces, fake tears, glue, foam wedges etc. While all of these items come with a kit, there is also an option to buy them separately. Some of them are completely optional such as the hair (artists resort to various things such as using mohair, wigs or human hair). Eyes are also special as the artist sometimes has to purchase them in a specific color and size.

Creation process

There are numerous things that an artist has to do during newborning:

  • Removing factory paint and taking a doll apart

  • Blue color wash may be added for more realistic skin

  • Artist may have to replace the eyes

  • Painting the outer layer of a doll

  • Sometimes, doll parts will be heat set by using a heat gun or by placing them into oven

  • Previously used blue color wash will add to realism of the doll by making it look like it has veins

  • Additional effects may be used in order to give it a better life appearance

  • Nails and nostrils are added next

  • Next, artist will add hair to a doll by wigging or rooting

  • The original vinyl body is weighted with a soft stuffed body filled with pellets/fine glass beads/fiberfill

  • Weight has to be close to baby’s age so that optimal results are achieved

  • Heads are also weighted so that a person would have a more natural feeling when placing a doll in hand

  • There is also an option of adding a magnet that can support pacifier

  • Electric device may also be added to a doll so it mimics breathing and heartbeat

  • Based on customers wishes, artist can add some other parts such as umbilical cord, heat pack, baby fat, sound pack that will create baby sounds and so on

The full process can take some time. Its length depends on all the additions as well as the realism that a customer wants.

Conferences, organizations and collecting

As previously mentioned, The International Reborn Doll Artists or IRDA was the main association that deals with reborn baby dolls. It was established on January 21, 2005, during the first conference of its kind. Besides regulatory role, the organization also takes care of education and advanced courses. Like with similar organizations, members will receive all the latest news regarding new techniques, materials and so on. It also gives them an opportunity to connect to each other.

A newborn artist can join the organization at any time, without any limitation in regards to experience or skill. However, IRDA has a strict ethical code when it comes to marketing and doll descriptions.

While there are various people who buy reborn dolls, hobbyists are the most common clientele. Reborn baby dolls can easily be bought online and sites such as eBay or artist’s online store (often referred to as a nursery) have them for sale. There are also numerous stores that sell doll kits. A potential customer has to pay attention to numerous things including:

  • Skin tone that is too dark will indicate that a doll was dyed too much or that colored sand was used for weighing

  • Certain materials will not react well when in contact with vinyl causing a doll to deteriorate. This is why a person has to check the material which was used for weighing

  • Shining will indicate acetone washing which will cause issues when painting a doll

  • A person has to check all the parts that have been used and whether the original ones where changed somewhere along the line. If the materials have been changed, this might affect proportions. It’s also necessary to have same materials for all reborn baby parts

  • Check whether the artist left a tiny mark. This is good way to establish authenticity

  • Eyes, size, alignment as well as fitting have to be checked

  • Natural imperfections (similar to ones that a real baby would have) can indicate quality

  • Hair, nails and nostrils can also be important and can indicate the quality of work.

Conferences and conventions are held for several years now. The first one was held in Orland, Florida in 2005. They are often paired with collectible fairs and conventions given that both of them are visited by hobbyists. When it comes to publications, Doll Reader Magazine is regarded as the most influential magazine in the industry being published for more than 25 years.

Issues with reborn baby dolls

Dolls that are reborn are not the same as the regular dolls; people usually don’t buy them as a gift. Instead, buying a doll is similar to adoption where dolls often come with a birth certificate.

They are mostly bought by older women and they serve two functions:

  • As a collectible

  • As a replacement for a baby

Reborn dolls are popular among women who have lost a child and have trouble coping with the fact. This is precisely why these dolls sometimes get a negative feedback from the society. Realistic features of reborn dolls are meant to create an empathic response in women. However, this also poses a problem for some people and is precisely why you won’t find reborn dolls in regular department stores but instead, they are sold online.

Reborn dolls for coping with a loss

When it comes to utilizing these dolls as babies, they are usually bought by women who:

  • Had a miscarriage

  • Had a stillbirth

  • Had a neonatal loss

  • Cannot adopt

  • Suffer from not having a baby in the house

Dolls are used as a substitution and some buyers use them in this capacity treating them as they would a real child. In other words, they would wash the hair, dress it up, take it for walks and so on. Some people would cuddle with them each day. Scientists connect this to release of hormone oxytocin which regulates happiness.

Another issue with reborns is that some people create an emotional bond. Experts claim that this can be very dangerous and suggest against such behavior. However, there are also some indications that these dolls can help traumatized people who lost their baby during or after a pregnancy.

Buying a reborn doll

You can buy reborn dolls on our site. We offer lots of sweet models; feel free to browse the store and find just the right doll that you like.

If you wish to read more about reborn baby dolls, make sure to visit our blog. Contact us through email or via our Facebook page if you have any additional questions.

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